Resolution calls for an end to “the blame game”

The National Chair of Resolution, Nigel Shepherd believes “it’s time to end the blame game. A new Parliament is a perfect opportunity for politicians to finally act on no fault divorce, regardless of the outcome on June 8th.”[1]

What is Resolution?

Resolution (previously known as The Solicitors Family Law Association) was established in 1982. Resolution represents around 6,500 legal professionals in England and Wales who work with families to resolve issues in a constructive, positive way.

Resolution aims to:

  • develop and promote high standards of legal practice;
  • support the development of family lawyers with training and resources;
  • campaign for improvements to the family legal system; and
  • act as a voice for family lawyers with the government and media.

Resolution has been at the forefront of recent campaigns in the media and in Parliament for no fault divorce. Mr. Shepherd wrote to the major political parties ahead of the 2017 General Election, to seek a commitment in their manifestos to modernise family law. Mr. Shepherd’s letter states that “current divorce law does not encourage couples to divorce amicably” and that “people often have to cite unreasonable behavior or adultery on the divorce petition”. Resolution believes the current legal system leads to unnecessary conflict making amicable separation difficult and reducing the chances of reaching an agreement.

How does a lawyer become a member of Resolution?

Resolution members are solicitors and other legal practitioners from family law firms. Other professionals such as barristers and counselors may become affiliated to and work closely with Resolution. All members undergo training and agree to follow the Resolution Code of Practice (the Code).

Membership of Resolution focuses on the lawyer’s approach to work. A Resolution member will:

  • reduce and manage conflicts, for example by not using inflammatory language;
  • support and encourage families to put the best interests of any children first;
  • help clients understand and manage the long term financial and emotional consequences;
  • listen, be honest and treat all parties with respect;
  • guide clients through all the options available to them giving confidence to make decisions;
  • continually develop knowledge and expertise; and
  • use the Resolution guide to good practice in day to day work.

Why choose a Resolution member?

The advantage for the client in engaging a Resolution member is in the approach their solicitor will take. The solicitor will make strenuous efforts to diffuse a hostile approach from the other party. The Code is the cornerstone of Resolution work and it promotes a constructive approach to family issues, considering the needs of the whole family and in particular the best interests of the children. The Code actively encourages a sensitive, cost effective approach to family law which is more likely to result in agreement.

Resolution encourages couples to settle disputes through negotiation rather than litigation. It promotes alternative avenues of dispute resolution such as mediation and collaborative law. 90% of cases handled by Resolution lawyers are settled out of Court. Resolution lawyers advise on how to balance financial and emotional costs with a desired outcome, managing stress and staying focused on continuing responsibilities to children. The non-confrontational approach helps families finalise the divorce or separation process quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Resolution and high-new-worth couples

Resolution’s ethos is aimed at reaching an agreement through negotiations, whether by round table meetings or mediation. The Code is equally applicable in the case of high-net-worth couples as it aims to get parties talking to conclude matters more swiftly than through an adversarial approach. In turn, client’s costs are generally less which may result in greater funds being available for the settlement. The Code separates disputes over financial and childcare arrangements and promotes the needs of the children above all else.

Resolution’s current campaign for an amicable divorce

Resolution has four proposals which it claims “will make a huge, positive difference to the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people that separate each year”. In his letter to each of the major political parties, Mr. Shepherd calls for a commitment in the next Parliament to:

  • allow couples to divorce without blame;
  • give cohabiting couples, who make up 10% of the population, some basic legal rights;
  • ensure there is fair access to the family justice system; and
  • give people more financial clarity on divorce.

Resolution’s proposals for a no fault divorce would apply “where one or both of the parties to a marriage give notice that their marriage has broken down irretrievably and one or both of them are still of that view after six months”. Additionally, “separating couples would be supported by information to help them explore whether the marriage can be saved and/or on the different process options available to them as well as parenting information.” The essence is to be able to divorce without having to apportion blame in a legal document or prove separation for 2 years, making it easier to manage without conflict and litigation.

In support of the proposal, Resolution refers to a recent YouGov poll finding that 69% of the public agreed that people should be able to divorce without apportioning blame and a recent survey of Resolution members in which over 90% agreed that no fault divorces should be available to separating couples. Many countries around the world including Australia, some US states, Sweden and Spain allow for divorce without blame. It has previously been considered under English Law as it was provided for in the Family Law Act 1996 but never enacted. Furthermore, the government’s Family Mediation Taskforce has recently recommended that divorce without blame is introduced.

Legal advice

Resolution members are family lawyers who use their expertise to help, support and advise you on the best possible solution for you and your family after a separation.

Rosie Bracher are specialist family law solicitors based in Barnstaple. We are vastly experienced in divorce and separation cases and have the knowledge and expertise to advise support and guide you throughout. Please contact our office on 01271 314 904 and arrange to speak to one of our team.

[1] Quotes and resources throughout this article are taken from the Resolution website